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I have a twitter account. I don’t do any tweeting. I use it to follow a few different craft breweries to see when they have new beers available and to keep up to speed on what some of our younger, more “tech savvy” pastors are doing. The other day while I was scrolling through my timeline something popped out at me. It was an illustration of Jesus healing a paralyzed man. Listen to how Mark records this incident: A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven” Mark 2:1-5 (NIV).
Some theologians call the Gospel of Mark the “action gospel” because in it, Christ is always on the move, preforming miracles and casting out demons. But in this passage, it’s not Christ who’s doing the moving. Mark records that at least four friends of the paralyzed man struggled through the crowd. And when they couldn’t – they actually dug through the roof to get their friend an audience with our Lord. With that in mind, the tweet accompanying the illustration made a lot more sense. “It took his friends to get him to see Christ.”
That caught me by surprise. What an interesting way to re-think that famous story. Of course we know that it is only Christ who can perform his healing and redemptive work to bring mankind back into right relationship with our Father God. But we also know that as Christians we have been called to participate with Christ in his work. That doesn’t mean that all of us will be like this group of four friends who directly lead someone into relationship with Christ, but we do know that each of us as members of the body of Christ have a part to play.
Some of us are like the sower who plant seeds in the relationships around us. Others are like the gardeners who faithfully water those seeds, and still others may be the ones who, like the friends in the Gospel of Mark, are able to be there with their brothers and sisters as they too make a decision to follow Christ. We know that it is Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, who brings all creation into relationship with our Lord. And we know that in our participating, we, in our own small way, work alongside Christ to bring many sons and daughters to glory.
I know this has been the case in many of my relationships through the years. And I hope it will be an encouragement to you to know that, in Christ, our evangelism small or large, is part of his great plan of redemption.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.